A Watershed Moment: The Urban Forest Project and 40% Tree Canopy

On this week’s episode we hear from Steve Faber, Executive Director for Friends of Grand Rapids Parks, as he describes the Urban Forest Project.

The Urban Forest Project is an initiative in partnership with Green Grand Rapids to obtain a 40% tree canopy within the city, meaning that if looking at an aerial photo, 40% of Grand Rapids would be covered by trees.

According to Faber, the project has three significant components.

Since trees growing in an urban environment need different care than a tree growing in a field or prairie, a web resource center will be a resource to the community, and will provide them with information on how to make their trees thrive.

A mapping component will allow community members to catalog trees online, which will provide specification of the ‘value’ of the trees in terms of carbon sequestration and stormwater management. It will also let contributors attach personal information about their favorite trees. For example, if you grew up with a tree, or have a favorite climbing tree, you could let the world know.

Lastly, civic engagement plays a major role within the project due to the fact that a lot of trees are being put in by volunteers. Community wide events, such as the Friends of Grand Rapids Parks “Neighborwoods” event, will be offering small grants to other groups in the community to work towards the 40% canopy goal.

“The goal is that every part of the city is working towards enhancing or expanding their urban forest canopy. We not only need to go out and plant trees to get to that goal, we have to maintain and grow those trees over time in order to really see their value.”

To listen to the full episode, click here.

“A Watershed Moment” is a weekly radio program focused on environmental news and happenings in West Michigan, plus solutions for living a greener life.  Broadcast on WYCE-FM 88.1 on Tuesdays at 8:30am and 5:30pm, this program is produced by Grand Rapids Community Media Center and West Michigan Environmental Action Council.

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